Protecting the Church’s Work Is My Duty

May 27, 2022

By Yixun, Japan

In December last year, the church needed to elect a new church leader. One day, I overheard the leaders say, “We should promote Sister Liu to the position. At the next meeting, we’ll read the insider evaluations of Sister Liu, and then the brothers and sisters can vote.” When I heard the news, I was very surprised, and I thought, “Sister Liu? She has a strong desire for fame and status. In the past, she was jealous of her partner, Sister Cheng, so she publicly belittled and judged her. As a result, brothers and sisters were dissatisfied with Sister Cheng and didn’t support her work, which disrupted the work of the church. The leaders fellowshiped with her many times, but she didn’t change, and in the end, she was dismissed. Even after such heavy pruning and dealing, she didn’t reflect on herself. She kept smiling as if nothing had happened, and had no understanding or hatred of herself. Given that she didn’t focus on seeking the truth and reflecting on herself after that, how could someone like her be suitable to be a leader? Selecting a church leader is a major issue. Whether a church leader is good or bad directly affects the life entry of all of God’s chosen people in the church. If a church leader doesn’t focus on pursuing the truth, how could they lead the brothers and sisters into the realities of truth? Is Sister Liu really suitable to be a leader?” But then I thought, “I haven’t had contact with her for nearly two years. Could she have repented and changed now? The principles of selecting leaders state that those leaders dismissed for transgressions in the past can still be elected if they showed genuine repentance and can do practical work. I can’t delimit others, and I need to view them in the light that they can change. If the leaders want to promote Sister Liu, she must have repented and changed. Leaders usually evaluate and handle things according to principles.” After that, I didn’t think too much about it.

A few days later, it was time for the meeting. The leaders fellowshiped with us about the principles of electing leaders and read the insider evaluations of Sister Liu. When I heard some of the brothers and sisters comment that she didn’t accept the truth well, and wasn’t all that responsible in her duty, I was a little disappointed. I thought, “If Sister Liu doesn’t accept the truth, how can she be made a leader?” It made me a little uneasy, but then I thought, “In a moment, the leaders will give the overview of her usual behavior and tell us how she reflected on her past transgressions and understood herself, right?” But the leaders never mentioned it. Finally, they asked everyone if we had any opinions on Sister Liu’s promotion. Everyone was silent. No one answered. I wanted to let them know my thoughts, but the leaders had read the evaluations, fellowshiped on the principles, and they didn’t feel there was anything wrong with Sister Liu. If I raised doubts at this juncture, wouldn’t this publicly embarrass the leaders? How would the leaders look at me then? Would they think I was deliberately creating problems and making things difficult for them? Would they think I was going against them? I didn’t want to offend the leaders. And I had been dismissed recently. If I raised an objection after that, would everyone think I was trying to provoke disputes and seize on others’ faults to contend for the leader position? Forget it, I thought, it’s too much trouble. If no one else said anything, I shouldn’t either. Besides, promoting a leader is no small matter. Leadership should be evaluated according to principles, and the best person should be chosen. So, I swallowed my words. After the meeting, I was a little uneasy, but it was already done. I could only console myself by saying “It’s already decided. If she is unsuitable, she will be replaced.” I didn’t think about it anymore, and the issue passed.

One day, a few sisters mentioned this to me, and also said they were a little suspicious about whether Sister Liu had real knowledge and repentance of her past transgressions. It was also mentioned in discussions that when Sister Liu was removed and replaced, she had no awareness of her own transgressions, hadn’t reflected, and didn’t seem like a truth-seeker. If she didn’t focus on pursuing and seeking the truth, how could she lead others to understand the truth and enter into its realities? The discussion made me think of a passage of God’s word, “What is the cause of the emergence of the category of people who are leaders and workers, and how did they emerge? On a grand scale, they are required for God’s work; on a smaller scale, they are required for the work of the church, they are required by God’s chosen people. … The difference between leaders and workers and the rest of God’s chosen people is only a special characteristic in the duties they perform. This special characteristic shows principally in their leadership roles. For example, no matter how many people a church has, the leader is the head. So what role does this leader play among the members? (They take the lead.) They lead all of the chosen ones in the church. So what effect do they have throughout the whole church? If this leader takes the wrong path, God’s chosen people in the church will follow the leader down the wrong path, which will have a huge impact on all of them. Take Paul for example. He led many of the churches he founded and God’s chosen people. When Paul went astray, the churches and God’s chosen people he led also went astray. So, when leaders go astray, they are not the only ones who are impacted, but the churches and God’s chosen people they lead are impacted as well(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Try to Win People Over). As I contemplated God’s word, my heart was heavy. The church leader is the head of the entire church. Whether a church leader is good or bad directly relates to whether the whole church can understand the truth and be saved by God. If someone who pursues the truth is chosen as a leader, they can be responsible for the life entry of their brothers and sisters, use the truth to resolve the difficulties in their life entry, fellowship on their own knowledge of practicing God’s words, and gradually guide and lead people into the realities of the truth. If someone who doesn’t pursue the truth is chosen as leader, they themselves don’t practice the truth, so they can’t lead their brothers and sisters into the truth. They can only speak letters and doctrines to confuse and cage people. That way, aren’t God’s chosen people harmed and ruined? Although we couldn’t characterize Sister Liu as someone who didn’t pursue the truth yet, based on the insider evaluations and her previous behavior, at the current time, she wasn’t suitable to be a church leader. If she was promoted to leader at this time, it wouldn’t be good for God’s chosen people or the work of the church.

That night, a few sisters and I contacted the leaders to share our thoughts and concerns with them. The leaders promised to investigate in detail again, and reevaluate things according to the situation. Before long, through a detailed investigation of Sister Liu’s actual behavior and insiders’ evaluation of her, the leaders saw Sister Liu had no real understanding of her past transgressions, did not self-reflect when things happened, and found it difficult to accept the truth. The leaders said, “We didn’t know Sister Liu’s actual situation before. We simply saw she is effective in her duty, so we thought she had repented. Now, from what we’ve learned, we see that Sister Liu is indeed not suitable to be a leader.” When I heard this result, I couldn’t describe the emotion I felt. I regretted not expressing my reservations in time. If I had brought it up sooner, and everyone had judged Sister Liu according to her actual situation, these problems wouldn’t have arisen. But I feared offending the leaders and workers, and that others would mistakenly think I was causing trouble because I wanted to be a leader. In the end, in order to protect myself, I shrank back like a coward. I didn’t practice the truth at all, nor did I protect the work of God’s house. All I thought about and protected were my personal interests. I was so selfish and despicable!

Later, I looked up some of God’s words relating to my state. “What disposition is it when people take no responsibility toward their work? It is the disposition of Satan, it is a cunning disposition. The most striking item in man’s philosophies for living is cunning. People think that if they are not cunning, they will be liable to offend others and unable to protect themselves; they think they must be cunning enough not to hurt or offend anyone, thereby keeping themselves safe, protecting their livelihoods, and gaining a firm foothold among the masses. This is how people act in the world of the unbelievers; why is it that you still act this way in God’s house? To see something harming the interests of God’s house, you say nothing, which means: ‘If someone else wants to speak up about this, let them—I’m not going to. I won’t displease anyone or stick my neck out.’ This is irresponsibility and cunning, and such people are not to be trusted. … Only those who love the truth and possess the reality of the truth can step forward when required by the work of God’s house and the chosen ones, only they can stand up, bravely and bound by duty, to testify to God and fellowship the truth, leading God’s chosen ones onto the right track, and allowing them to attain obedience to God’s work; and only this is an attitude of responsibility and the manifestation of caring about God’s will. If you do not have this attitude, and are nothing but slipshod in your handling of things, and you think, ‘I’ll do the things within the scope of my own duty, but I don’t care about anything else. If you ask me something, I’ll answer you—if I’m in a good mood. Otherwise, I won’t. This is my attitude,’ then this is a type of corrupt disposition, isn’t it? Only to protect one’s own position, reputation, self-regard, and only to protect the things that relate to one’s own interests—does one thereby protect a just cause? Do they protect positive things? Behind these petty, selfish motives is the disposition of being sick of the truth. The majority of you frequently express these sorts of behaviors, and the moment you encounter something that relates to the interests of God’s family, you prevaricate and say, ‘I didn’t see,’ or ‘I don’t know,’ or ‘I haven’t heard.’ Whether you are truly unaware or just pretending, if, when it matters most, you reveal this kind of corrupt disposition, then it is hard to say whether you are someone who truly believes in God; to Me, you’re either someone who is confused in their belief, or who is a nonbeliever. You are absolutely not someone who loves the truth(The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words pierced my heart. God revealed that people irresponsible in their duties have a cunning disposition. When I saw the word “cunning,” I thought of Satan’s deceitful words and deeds. This was how my state manifested and what my disposition was. I was cunning and deceitful, and I had no sincerity toward God. In the matter of Sister Liu’s election, I didn’t lack all clarity or discernment of the matter. I obviously had objections and doubts about Sister Liu’s promotion as a leader, and I clearly understood the danger posed to the church and God’s chosen people if the wrong leader was elected. But because of my cunning and deceitful nature, I feared that speaking out would embarrass and offend the leaders and workers, and I also worried others would think I wanted to be the leader and have a bad impression of me. In order to protect my own reputation and status, to shield myself, I chose to turn a blind eye and be a people-pleaser so that no one would be offended. I didn’t have the slightest fear of God. I treated the work of God’s house too casually and irresponsibly! Although I wasn’t sure at the time whether Sister Liu was up to the task of leading, I could have asked and looked into more details. My questions wouldn’t be objections, nor was it intentionally making things hard for the leaders, it was looking into the facts and safeguarding elections according to principles. If I had looked into Sister Liu earlier, and learned she didn’t reflect on her past transgressions, still didn’t accept the truth, and wasn’t suitable to be a leader, I should have stopped in time. Doing so would be taking responsibility for myself, as well as for the work of the church and for the lives of God’s chosen people. But in a matter as important as church elections, I only considered my personal interests. I didn’t safeguard the work of God’s house at all. I simply had no conscience or reason, and by nature I didn’t love the truth. After years of belief in God, I still lived by satanic toxins like, “When you know something is wrong, it is better to say less,” and “Every man for himself.” My principle was always “self-interest and self-benefit.” I was selfish, despicable, cunning, deceitful, and had devious thoughts. I believed by following this satanic logic, I would offend no one, and could secure my place in a crowd. But God observes my deeds and actions, and my behavior made God detest and condemn me. I thought about how God has painstakingly fellowshiped with us for the past few years, on how to discern false leaders and antichrists, the importance of electing good church leaders, the work responsibilities of church leadership, and many other aspects of the truth. God did so to allow us to learn to discern people and matters, and so that we could all better maintain church life and protect the work of the church. But after hearing so many sermons, I didn’t take God’s words to heart. When things happened, I still lived by satanic philosophies and couldn’t practice the truth. Thinking of this, I felt very sad and guilty. I thought of God’s words, “No matter how much the work of the church and the interests of the house of God suffer, you don’t care, intervene, or feel guilty—which makes you someone who has no conscience or sense, a nonbeliever, a service-doer. You eat what is God’s, drink what is God’s, and enjoy all that comes from God, yet feel that any harm to the interests of the house of God is not related to you—which makes you a traitor who bites the hand that feeds you. If you do not protect the interests of the house of God, are you even human? This is a demon that has insinuated itself into the church. You feign belief in God, pretend to be a chosen one, and you want to freeload in God’s house. You are not living the life of a human being, and are clearly one of the nonbelievers(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing). From God’s word, I felt His hatred and loathing for selfish and self-interested people like me. I also felt deep regret for what I had done. God was entirely right. I was nothing but a freeloader in God’s house. I had believed in God for years and enjoyed the watering and supply of God’s word, but there was no place for God in my heart, and I was never of one heart with God. At the critical moment, I couldn’t protect the interests of God’s house. I clearly knew there was a problem with the election, but I didn’t even have the courage to tell the truth. I still thoughtlessly believed that she could simply be dismissed if she turned out to be wrong. Was this the attitude that a believer in God should have? Wasn’t I just an unbeliever, a nonbeliever? A true member of God’s chosen treats the affairs of God’s house as their own at all times, and can stand on God’s side and safeguard the work of God’s house. But I didn’t hold myself as a member of God’s house. I was indifferent to church work and the interests of God’s house. When I noticed a problem, I didn’t ask about it. I couldn’t even fulfill the basic responsibilities of a believer in God. How could God ever recognize such faith? Thinking of this, I felt heartbroken, and my tears flowed involuntarily. I hated myself for having no conscience or reason. I prayed to God with tears in my eyes, “God! I am corrupted too deeply by Satan. I only consider my personal interests, and can’t maintain the work of God’s house. which caused me to hinder election work. I am so selfish and despicable! God, I wish to repent.”

Later, I read in God’s word, “Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; give no thought to your own status, pride, or reputation, and do not consider the interests of man. You must first give thought to the interests of God’s house, and make them your first priority. You should be considerate of God’s will and begin by contemplating whether or not you have been impure in the fulfillment of your duty, whether you have been loyal, fulfilled your responsibilities, and given your all, as well as whether or not you have wholeheartedly given thought to your duty and the work of God’s house. You must give consideration to these things. Think about them frequently and figure them out, and it will be easier for you to perform your duty well. If you are of poor caliber, if your experience is shallow, or if you are not proficient in your professional work, then there may be some mistakes or deficiencies in your work, and the results may not be very good—but you will have put forth your best effort. In everything you do, you do not think of your own selfish desires or safeguard your own interests, and instead give constant consideration to the work and interests of God’s house. Although you may not perform your duty well, your heart has been rectified; if, on top of this, you can seek the truth to solve the problems in your duty, then your duty will be up to standard and you will be able to enter into the reality of the truth. This is bearing testimony(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth). “Do everything that is beneficial to God’s work and nothing that is detrimental to the interests of God’s work. Defend God’s name, God’s testimony, and God’s work. You should uphold and take responsibility for anything that relates to the interests of the house of God, or which concerns the work of the house of God and the name of God. Each of you has this responsibility, this obligation, and it is what you should do(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. A Talk About God’s Administrative Decrees in the Age of Kingdom). God’s word gave me a path of practice. When things happened, I should let go of my status and image, prioritize church work and the interests of God’s house, and fulfill my responsibility. When I see the interests of God’s house harmed, I should uphold principles and the interests of God’s house, and not fear offending people. Even if I can’t see some things clearly, I should focus on seeking and practicing the truth and safeguard the church’s interests. Just like this leader’s promotion, I couldn’t see things clearly or be sure, so I should have spoken out, sought, and investigated with my brothers and sisters. I shouldn’t have cared what others or my leaders thought. I should have turned toward God and accepted His scrutiny. With the right intentions, those of safeguarding the work of the church and the interests of my brothers and sisters, no one would judge or condemn me. Once I understood these things, I felt a little release.

Later, I fellowshiped and sought with my sisters, and found I held another mistaken view. I thought the various decisions of my leaders were made according to principles and shouldn’t be questioned. If I disagreed, I was deliberately making things hard for them, embarrassing and contradicting them. Actually, my view wasn’t in line with the truth at all. It was entirely based on my imagination. During my devotionals, I read a passage of God’s word that taught me the right principles toward leaders and workers. Almighty God says, “When someone in the church is promoted and cultivated to be a leader, they are merely promoted and cultivated in the straightforward sense; it does not mean that they are already a qualified leader, or a competent one, that they are already capable of undertaking the work of a leader, and can do real work—that is not the case. When someone is promoted and cultivated to be a leader, the very least they must possess is something most people do not see clearly. Some people, relying on their imaginings, look up to those promoted and cultivated, but this is a mistake. No matter how many years they may have believed, do those who are promoted really possess the reality of truth? Not necessarily. Are they able to bring to fruition the work arrangements of the house of God? Not necessarily. Do they have a sense of responsibility? Are they possessed of commitment? Are they able to submit to God? When they encounter an issue, are they able to search for the truth? All of this is unknown. … People must not have high expectations or unrealistic demands of those who are promoted and cultivated; that would be unreasonable, and unfair on them. You can monitor their work, and if you discover problems or things that violate principles in the course of their work, you can raise the issue and seek the truth to resolve these matters. What you should not do is judge, condemn, attack, or exclude them, because they are in the cultivation period, and should not be viewed as people who have been made perfect, much less as people who are perfect, or as people who are possessed of the reality of the truth. They are like you: This is the time when they are being trained. The difference is that they undertake more work and responsibilities than ordinary people. They have a responsibility and an obligation to do more work; they pay a greater price, suffer more hardship, take more pains, solve more problems, tolerate the censure of more people, and of course make a greater effort, have less sleep, eat less fine food, and engage in less chit-chat, than normal people. This is what’s special about them; apart from this, they are the same as anyone else. What is the point of Me saying this? In order to tell everyone that they must correctly approach the promotion and cultivation of various types of talents in God’s house, and must not be harsh in their demands of these people. Naturally, people must not be unrealistic in their opinion of them either. It is foolish to be overly appreciative or reverential of them, nor is it humane or realistic to be overly harsh in your demands toward them. So what is the most rational way to act toward them? To think of them as ordinary people and, when there is a problem that needs to be searched, to fellowship with them and learn from each other’s strengths and complement each other. In addition, it is everyone’s responsibility to keep an eye on whether leaders and workers are doing real work, whether they use the truth to solve problems; these are the standards and principles for measuring whether a leader or worker is up to par(Identifying False Leaders). God’s word is very clear. Church leaders are selected and cultivated from among God’s chosen people. They are not perfect people, and they are all still practicing. They are still in the process of pursuing the truth and dispositional change. Deviations and mistakes in their work are inevitable. God’s chosen people must treat this correctly and have the responsibility to supervise and safeguard their work. If what church leaders do is inappropriate or detrimental to the work, God’s chosen should raise the issue and cooperate with leaders to complete church work. This is also a duty that God’s chosen people should perform. Each time we elect a leader, why do we read so many insider evaluations, and why do God’s chosen people need to vote? Because God’s chosen people know the facts. Without the cooperation of God’s chosen people, the evaluation of leaders and workers is prone to error. Only when a majority of God’s chosen bear a burden and fulfill their responsibilities can the selection of leaders be relatively accurate and in line with principles. But I didn’t see things according to the facts. Based on my notions, I thought the opinions and decisions of leaders were made according to principles and would have no problems. My view was completely absurd! I thought too highly of leaders. I blindly listened to and obeyed them without any principles. This was so foolish and ignorant! Only after reading God’s word did I realize how to correctly treat church leaders. I shouldn’t blindly listen to and obey them. If what they do is right and in line with the principles of truth, I should accept and obey. This isn’t obeying a person or a leader, it’s obeying the truth. If what they say or do isn’t in line with the principles of truth, no matter what level leader they are, I should reject it, refuse it to obey, open my heart, fellowship, and explore with others until we all understand the problem. This is safeguarding the church’s interests. If everyone can treat the principles of truth seriously, cooperate harmoniously with leaders, and fulfill their own responsibilities, the church work and church life of God’s chosen people will be guaranteed and maintained. If everyone held the same view as me and blindly looked up to leaders and workers, left all the problems to the leaders and workers, was indifferent even to important matters such as the elections of leaders, practiced exactly as leaders said, didn’t fulfill their own responsibilities, didn’t cooperate with leaders to keep an eye on things, and didn’t seek or speak up when they knew things were clearly inappropriate, then they would not only lose their own duties, but also be likely to choose the wrong leaders. This would only bring harm and ruin to church work and the brothers and sisters. At the same time, I learned that in things I don’t understand, I should seek the truth with a heart that fears God until I clearly understand the question. As long as our intention is right, to protect the work of the church, even if we disagree with our leaders, we are not causing a disturbance or opposing our leaders, we are correctly seeking the truth and exploring the issue, as well as safeguarding the work and interests of God’s house. If the leader is the correct person, they will be able to accept the truth and will not oppress anyone because of it. If a leader suppresses others due to differing opinions, this proves the leader doesn’t accept the truth, which can also help us develop discernment. Once I realized these things, my heart felt brightness and release. I now knew how to cooperate with leaders and safeguard the work of the church.

Once, the brothers and sisters reported and exposed Li, saying she was especially selfish and greedy, and that she often took advantage of her brothers and sisters and asked them for things. People found her to be repulsive and a very bad influence. According to principles, she should be cleared out. After the leaders investigated and verified the report, it was determined to be true, but the leaders said she was effective at gospel work and could remain to perform her duty. When I heard this, I thought of some of Li’s previous behaviors in her duty. She had a vicious disposition, did things arbitrarily, and demanded to have the final say. If anyone pointed out her problems, she retaliated and punished them, and she didn’t accept the truth at all. Finally, she was dismissed. Even then, Li hadn’t repented, she was still greedy, and she still often asked for things from the brothers and sisters. According to principles, she was a target for clearing out. However, I still had some concerns. Her humanity was wicked, she was insidious and greedy, and if she remained in the church, she would commit more evil and disrupt gospel work. If we waited to handle it once it had a major impact on work, wouldn’t that be too late? I thought, “Shouldn’t I tell the leaders about this?” But then I thought, “The leaders can evaluate and monitor things according to principles. If I say something now, how will they see me? Will they think I have a problem with their arrangements? No one else has said anything, so forget it, I won’t either.” When I thought like this, I felt uneasy. I remembered my experience not long ago, and realized I was protecting my own interests again. So, I silently prayed to God to say I wished to have the right intentions, accept God’s scrutiny, and protect church work, regardless of how others saw me. So, I expressed my concerns and sought with everyone. After I finished, the other brothers and sisters also gave some suggestions. Afterward, the leaders investigated and determined Li was unsuitable to remain in the church, so she was purged from the church according to principles. When I saw how it was handled, I felt very secure. I saw that not living by satanic philosophies and practicing the truth is the only way to live as a real human and with dignity. Thanks be to God!

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